The brain and its time: intrinsic neural timescales are key for input processing

Mehrshad Golesorkhi, Javier Gomez-Pilar, Federico Zilio, Nareg Berberian, Annemarie Wolff, Mustapha C.E. Yagoub, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


We process and integrate multiple timescales into one meaningful whole. Recent evidence suggests that the brain displays a complex multiscale temporal organization. Different regions exhibit different timescales as described by the concept of intrinsic neural timescales (INT); however, their function and neural mechanisms remains unclear. We review recent literature on INT and propose that they are key for input processing. Specifically, they are shared across different species, i.e., input sharing. This suggests a role of INT in encoding inputs through matching the inputs’ stochastics with the ongoing temporal statistics of the brain’s neural activity, i.e., input encoding. Following simulation and empirical data, we point out input integration versus segregation and input sampling as key temporal mechanisms of input processing. This deeply grounds the brain within its environmental and evolutionary context. It carries major implications in understanding mental features and psychiatric disorders, as well as going beyond the brain in integrating timescales into artificial intelligence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number970
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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